Guam DOE seeks to improve college placement through online learning

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The Guam Department of Education is hoping to boost graduates’ college placement scores by taking instructional time beyond the classroom through online learning opportunities.

Currently, about 70 percent of Guam DOE graduates place into remedial math and English courses at both Guam Community College and the University of Guam, according to Joe Sanchez, Guam DOE deputy superintendent of curriculum.

“Ideally, we’d like that figure to be at about 30 percent, and we’re working with the university to develop programs that match higher-education assessment criteria,” Sanchez said.

Piloting an e-Campus program

On Nov. 14, over 20 Guam DOE teachers received training on the implementation of the ACE Digital Academy online platform, which could be used to supplement credit recovery programs, offer advanced placement courses and in a matter of years could possibly replace a conventional classroom altogether.

According to Sanchez, there are two public high schools who’ve expressed interest in piloting an e-Campus program, which wouldn’t require students to be physically present for certain classes.

Instead, they could fulfill their requirements from home.

“When we’re looking at student achievement and scoring, we have to take instructional style, atmosphere and relevance into consideration,” the deputy superintendent said. “There are students in our school system from minority groups, or whom feel disenfranchised, that may not feel comfortable attending classes as we’ve come to know them.”

80 percent of students meet ‘high poverty’

Guam also has a unique student base that in many ways reflects the broader community.

Earlier this year, all 41 schools under Guam DOE qualified for a no-cost meal program because about 80 percent of students meet “high poverty” criteria.

“We do have a number of students in our high schools who have trouble with the conventional school structure because they’re working to help support their families. Many of them also have sick parents or grandparents, and just might not find it reasonable to be in class from 6:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” Sanchez said. “So, increasing online learning, and other methods of adapting to our students’ realities will improve their chances of success.”

Guam DOE currently doesn’t collect data on how many students may or may not have computer access, or access to the internet, at home.

But an e-campus program, Sanchez stated, would alleviate a lack of access by providing more computer labs for students to utilize.

Mobile laptop cart and headphones

More online classes would also mean fewer teachers, which may reduce department spending.

“This is really just a starting point. But we can see the potential already,” Sanchez said.

Earlier this month, Guam DOE announced 12 schools would be receiving mobile laptop carts and headphones through a $704,368 grant meant to improve literacy.

Sanchez said it is the department’s goal to have a teacher-to-mobile cart ratio of 3:1.

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